War of the Worlds

A Lesson in Futility


One thing that's always worth mentioning in any film adaption is pacing. The 2005 low budget War of the Worlds staring Howell as George (not the 2005 Tom Cruse remake) started off as most movies should. They set up an environment where everything is running smoothly or at the very least at an acceptable level. The relationship between the George and his wife seemed positive. He seems to genuinely enjoy his son at least on the surface level. Generally the director at this point has a plan in mind to draw you into the lives of the characters and make them likable. Now in the film, the drop from status quo to disaster happens just too fast even for a movie. There isn't nearly as much time in a movie so it’s understandable that usually they cut a large portion of the exposition and set up. H G Wells's 'War of the Worlds' the tantalized his readers with promises of an incredible story where in Earth is being watched by aliens. This piece of narration completely excluded from this movie and there's nothing wrong with that. But the director of this movie didn't pace it very well. I there was no time to understand the character before he was tossed into a very dangerous situation. It's important that we care about the characters safety before it is actually threatened. They jump straight from set up to inciting incident in around seven and a half minutes. Consequently there was absolutely no attachment to any of the charters and it felt half hazard throughout.

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There was also a major difference in the setting it from the book to the movie. The book took place in London sometime in the 1900 century. In this time technology wasn't that much of a factor and they were utterly defenseless again the type of weapons the aliens had. They skip over the technological advances of the information age for the most part in this movie. While they do have machine guns they don't show any other form of artillery through out the movie. They don't use any bombs on camera or even show this machine against so much as a tank. There's no question a lot more thought was put into the Tom Hanks remake from a military stand point. But like this remake The movie actually takes place in America probably to cater to its primary demographic. By the look and feel of the movie it was probably supposed to be set some time in the 90's nearly a whole century ahead of the novel. It's also worth mentioning H G wells was born in England. So it's hard to not assume it takes place in London for this reason. Throughout the novel the nameless narrator travels through many different places so there is no set location where the whole novel takes place. It is understood that he is traveling from place to place in London and there is only mention of other countries.


There was hardly any coloration between the charters of the book and the film. The nameless narrator is a philosopher while the character from the movie was an astronomer. It was pretty obvious the Howell remake wasn't concerned with trying to tell this story in the likeness of Wells rendition, but a lot of the overarching religious themes were there. The religious aspect posed one of the most significant questions a work can ask. When not just the characters but humanity in general was stumbling through an exceptionally tough season where would they turn? H G Wells wanted his readers to take the Faith seriously and the priest was the embodiment of this theological struggle. There was a point in the movie where the priest met with one of his church members- a middle aged woman- who had lost her children to the aliens. When he tried to comfort her she started blaspheming with all sorts of profanities. The Priest himself held on to his faith through for the better part of the movie. Towards the end however the moral of the story really got cryptic. The novel on the other had a little bit more of a definite message. Based on the resolution one could assume that there was in fact a higher being looking out after humanity after all. The aliens ended up getting swept up by the same viruses our body fights every day. The movie however didn't exactly wrap everything up towards the end. In the end the main character George finally got to Washington D.C. But instead of the aliens meeting an eventual death by disease they just kind of keep going. The audience is sort of left wondering what is to come of all humanity.
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Deadly device

One thing that would have been somewhat irresponsible to omit is the exterminating device the martians used to wipe out humanity. It's described as an ambiguous heat ray which in the book which makes since because the narrator has no clue how it works what powers it or anything else about it. The movie sticks pretty closely to the novel in this respect. It's just a vessel of destruction in the movie just as it is in the book. Every depiction of this weapon is pretty much the same. It eviscerates everything in it's path and leaves nothing behind but chard ash. They also included the gas that leaves Earth's atmosphere uninhabitable.

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Seperation and isolation

Though the specifics of the plots aren't quite the same the major events do match up with pretty good accuracy. That is getting trapped in a building where the aliens have chosen to set up base. The narrator of the book was trapped for days at a time with only one companion. This was both good and bad because of the shared food source they had to live on. All the fear and panic was definitely captured in all it's entirety. Chaos and complete isolation are both adjectives that could be used for both the movie and the novel. In that respect they both have the same tone. It's everybody running around in an anarchist society where no one is worried in the slightest about steeling or any other law for that matter. These characters are all delineated as refuges. That was present in both the novel and the 2005 Howell remake.

Final scene in the movie

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nomadic lifestyle

It was the case for the majority of H G Wells novel that all the characters were doomed to a life of constant traveling. They never could sit still in one place for more than a day for fear of facing the aliens. it was most definitely harsh living conditions for everyone involved. Even the aliens who dictated the fight seemed to have their share of struggles. This is the angle that the movie played to bring the foreigners to their knees in then end. There were little bits and pieces of evidence that this world would prove inhabitable for them from the very beginning. It was all in the way the aliens couldn't seem to hold themselves up right outside of their metal armor. Wells through his narrator really goes into great detail about the outward appearance and just tough of a time these creatures had outside of their shells. The aliens had a weakness. In the Movie however there were none to be found. Very little focus was put on the aliens in fact or their motivation. Wells also made it clear that the visitors were primarily after Earth. But there were no real hints of this in the film adaption. This lake of opening gives the movie a bit more of a hopeless feel to it. Humanity had no hope left. In the book there seemed to be more of a motivation behind their travels. There was no real reason in the movie however. It became just about pure survival.


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The focus shifts

One big difference between the movie and the book is where the director chose to shift the emphasis. In the novel H G Wells spends a considerable amount of time showing humanity and all the turmoil and fear. He describes the general emotions of the massing crowd. He writes where they were headed- their plans and what I would look like if an Alien really invaded Earth. The movie however glosses over this aspect completely. One way he shifts the focus is by giving the nameless narrator of the story a name. That instantly raises the importance of the main character. In the book Wells talked also about the tactics that the military used while War of the Worlds the movie excluded the majority these details. The movie had a tight leash on George and rarely let him go out into the public. There were those times of isolation in the book but in general they had a broader scope of humanity. Wells talked about what people thought theologically not just two characters in the story. The transition from the book to this movie in particular felt like the difference between reading a whole newspaper or just reading a caption.